Health

You Might Have to Read This Twice


Then again, you probably already know that. Because if you have ADHD, you have to read a lot of things twice.

ReadingThe nice thing about reading is that at least you have the option of a “do-over” if you blank out mid-sentence. Sure, it’s frustrating when you have to go and start the paragraph over because you suddenly realize that you’re reading through the words without any of their meaning sinking in.

But it’s better than the alternative – not being able to start over. This is one thing I prefer about reading over listening: having the option to go back if you zone out. And it’s one reason I preferred learning by reading to learning by listening when I was in school.

Videos are good for this reason too. They let you absorb information by listening/watching and give you the option to hit “rewind.”

A 2014 study looked at how 484 students with ADHD and 484 without ADHD used educational videos differently. It turned out that the students with ADHD rewatched parts of the videos they’d previously watched significantly more.

Now, if you have ADHD, you probably don’t find this very surprising. Of course the ADHDers went back and rewatched more often! But if you ask me, it’s still pretty cool that researchers can take transcripts of students’ video watching behavior and see reliable statistical differences between the students with and without ADHD.

The students with ADHD also hit the pause button more often. The study didn’t explore why this might be the case, although one interpretation is that people who have trouble sustaining attention are naturally going to take more breaks.

All I can tell you is that I sure wish my lectures in college had come with a rewind and a pause button! (And, with some teachers, a fast-forward button, but that’s a different story.)

If you have ADHD, it can help to be aware of how different formats influence how you process information. That way, you can give preference to means of communicating that, for example, let you go back and compensate for attention slips.

For me, that means pretending like I’m a lawyer: get everything in writing! Then if my brain checks out at an inopportune moment, I can always just go back and reread. Plus, as a bonus, I’ll be ready if anyone tries to take me to court!

Image: Flickr/Terry Freedman



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